What is true for you? How do you know something is true?
There are two kinds of truth. The first kind, is where we agree that something is true. An example of this is when people thought the world was flat, until it was proved to be round. The world was always round but at one time most people did not know this. People “agreed” the world was flat, until it was proved to be round, then most people (eventually) agreed it was round.
The second kind of truth is where we feel that something is true in our hearts. This second kind of truth is enhanced but not dependent on agreement from others. The second kind of truth may involve others – or it may not. It might lead to agreement but it begins inside us, inside each of us, inside our hearts, inside our world of feelings. I use the word ‘heart’ here to describe the feeling of truth, recognising that the heart is where most people locate their most important and tender feelings : (if you like, the word ‘heart’ can mean emotional centre or just emotional importance.)
How can we know what is really true at any one time? (Which we could also say, is any one place too). In the first truth, where we agree on what is true, we do this by describing things to each other. With the second kind of truth, we find if it is true or not, by looking in our own hearts, in our ongoing world of feelings. (Thoughts are of course important but we will come back to thinking a bit later on). Feelings are whole body events, centred in the heart. It sounds too easy to say we find the second kind of truth by just looking in our hearts but it is one of the most difficult things a human being can do.
For me, feelings have layers and I think this is true for everyone else as well. If you spend time looking at your feelings, you can see that there are feelings ‘underneath’ the ones you are looking at. At first, you recognise the ‘top’ layer feelings but may not recognise all the deeper ‘lower level’ feelings. Because these deeper feelings are hard to see, many people just ignore them. Our own minds make it easy to do this ignoring.
Our minds are driven by survival instincts and habits that form a complex “auto-pilot” style functioning. This provides a kind of optimum package which delivers our best chances of survival. This is good, we want this functioning to carry on but to know the second truth, we need to see that this functioning can also obscure the deeper feelings.
Where feelings and choices contradict each other, the mind’s auto-pilot will push one to the forefront, to facilitate survival. We need this functioning to continue but at the same time, if we want to explore the second kind of truth, we need to learn to be as open as possible to the deeper feelings.
Feelings then have ‘surface’ and ‘deep’ layers. The deeper layers are hard to see but we can learn to be open to them. If the deeper feelings are mostly not visible, because they do not assist our auto-pilot with its busy survival tactics, why would we need to seek them out at all? Because it is at the deeper feeling levels that second truths are found.
The deeper feelings may spontaneously rise up but exploring the second kind of truth is usually dependent on actively looking at deeper feelings. There are practical steps we can take but before we do, I would like us to consider the term “unconscious mind”. For me, the term unconscious mind is too restrictive, like a box inside a box. The inside box is seen as locked and not directly accessible. I prefer a model of consciousness that is fluid and dynamic: the seamlessly connected fluid levels contain mobile depths we cannot easily see – at least at first.
Being open to the deeper layers usually comes from consistently applying a method.
Just because we are dealing with feelings/emotions it does not mean we have to be any less rigorous or precise in pursuing this, than we would with any other important endeavour. We require a consistent method and it would be most helpful if the method was one that all people could use, so comparisons can be more easily made. Such a method exists and although its origins are ancient, it is as relevant today as it ever was.
The best method I have found for seeing the deeper layers of feelings is called Mindfulness, though I prefer the more descriptive term, Constancy. Whenever I use the term Constancy it is equivalent to the term Mindfulness, (of the 24/7 kind : different kinds of mindfulness are covered in chapter 4).
Mindfulness/Constancy is a technique developed in India’s ancient past and was taken up by Buddhism, via which, it made its way to China, then Japan and eventually, the rest of the world. Although its origins were based in Eastern religions, it is not itself a religious practice, it is just a technique that can be used by anyone, whether they have ‘beliefs’ or not.
The practice of Constancy is easy to describe and difficult to do. Put simply, it is constant attention. You have to be as aware as you can, of everything you think, feel and do, all of the time. Anything that goes on ‘inside’ you and anything you do ‘outside’ in the world, you must watch with as much constant attention as you can muster.
Your awareness, that you are perhaps going to be more attentive to, can vary. This is my list of awareness types, (they may not be consecutive or exclusive) :
(1) Unconscious, you have some memory afterwards, of a time where you were not aware,
(2) Asleep : we seem to join a dream that is already happening.
(3) Drowsy, sleepy, just woke up or descending into sleep
(4) Day dreaming
(5) Normal. Relaxed but awake, wide awareness of what is going on around you, or, you have your head down, concentrating , with only a narrow awareness of your surroundings
(6) Hyper = speedy
(7) Manic. Out of control speediness
(8) Physical exertion, leading to greater awareness, adrenalin rush
(9) Drug induced, altered states
(10) Insanity. Impaired functioning and/or little or no control
(11) Shock. Sudden induction by fear or tragedy
(12) Awe. Powerful feelings of appreciation; suspends ordinary awareness
(13) Mystical. Can be aimed for or accidental,
(14) Transcendent. Ordinary human awareness is let go of, temporarily or permanently
The above could be shortened to just three :
- no awareness, (that you are aware of only after it has passed).
- current awareness
- and more awareness
. . . . . . . the principle at work here, is that awareness varies. Because it can vary, it can therefore be increased. This may seem so obvious but it is an important factor; how much can it be increased? Both ancient and modern practitioners of Mindfulness/Constancy report many benefits but there is one I want to refer to here – Constancy helps us open to, and watch, our deeper feelings.
Constancy is, as the name implies, something you have to do all the time. You take your ordinary everyday kind of awareness but you use it to watch yourself. By “watching yourself”, I mean using your awareness to be aware (to “watch”) everything that is happening in your mind. Inside your head, inside your brain, “inside” your mind, there are many things going on, often at very great speed but broadly speaking there are three types of occurrence and they are :
- feelings (feelings = emotions).
With Constancy, we watch all three, all the time. And by all the time, we really do mean ALL the time. Every second. Every minute. Every hour. Every day. For ever . . . . . . (in practice, our awareness comes and goes, so we are, as often as not, returning to the awareness as soon as we notice it has gone. However, the intention to watch constantly is as important as the actual doing and this intention itself can be developed).
We start the constant looking at the feelings we can see, the surface ones. We learn that all feelings are connected to each other. The feelings we watch are connected to the deeper ones we cannot at first see – from the known feelings we become connected to the deeper unknown ones.
This is how Constancy can help you see the second truth. By watching your feelings (all the time, constantly), the deeper ones (underneath the surface feelings) will emerge and over time, you can explore them.
The process of Constancy, of watching all the time, lets the deeper feelings surface, allowing exploration of them but there is another reason that watching all the time is important. There is no one feeling, no one event that reveals the second truth, it is rather a process over time – as much time as it takes.
That is it. There are no secrets, no hidden teachings, it is just a case of applying your chosen method and doing it all the time. The second truth is explored by watching the deeper feelings over time, the deeper feelings will then show you what to do. If you do not know what to do, carry on with the Constancy, until you do. There are many teachers and maybe all can help you but it is actually doing the method consistently that counts the most.
The rest of the site contains helpful pointers from many sources. The advice may be helpful but it all points to the same thing, the need to choose a method and do it wholeheartedly.
Imagine, you are at the end of your life and you have a few moments to consider. There are three questions that often surface when death is certain : (they have many variants but mostly they are of the same kind) :
~ Have I loved enough?
~ What was that life all about?
~ What happens next?
You do not need to wait for your last breaths to address these questions, but, to address them at the most profound level, you will need to rely on luck – or – sustained insight from a powerful method consistently applied. One such method, that I recommend to you, is Constancy.
I wish you health and happiness but most of all, I wish you clear insight.